Closely watched litigation goes to trial Dec. 5Pioneer MRI manufacturerFonar is seeking $362 million in damages from General Electricand Hitachi Ltd. for allegedly infringing on patents coveringprocesses essential to MRI. A Dec. 5 trial date is set in
Closely watched litigation goes to trial Dec. 5Pioneer MRI manufacturerFonar is seeking $362 million in damages from General Electricand Hitachi Ltd. for allegedly infringing on patents coveringprocesses essential to MRI.
A Dec. 5 trial date is set in U.S. District Court for EasternNew York in Hauppauge, NY, for the controversial case. It pitsthe enigmatic Dr. Raymond V. Damadian against corporate giantsGE and Hitachi, as well as two imaging centers (SCAN 7/27/94).
Named in the complaint filed by Fonar are Hitachi Medical SystemsAmerica (a U.S. marketing joint venture between Hitachi MedicalSystems and Summit World Trade in Hudson, OH); Brookhaven MagneticResonance of Patchogue, NY; and South Shore Imaging of RockvilleCenter, NY. Fonar, of Melville, NY, filed the lawsuit in September1992.
Fonar contends that the defendants violated five patents includinga generic patent for using T1 and T2 MRI sequences to differentiatebetween normal and malignant tissue. This patent is based on findingsmade by Damadian in 1969 and published in a 1971 issue of Science,according to Fonar spokesperson Dan Culver. Other patents relateto the multi-angle oblique sequence and to permanent magnet design.
Fonar seeks damages of $300 million from GE and $62 millionfrom Hitachi, according to Fonar counsel Ronald J. Schutz of Robins,Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi in Minneapolis. The formula for assessinga dollar value of damages was based on the law of patent damagesand financial information from the three litigants, Schutz said.
Fonar's claim against GE and Hitachi is more than 23 timeslarger than the $15.4 million in revenue Fonar generated in thefiscal year that ended June 30, 1994. Fonar reported a loss of$334,000 for the year on revenues of $15.4 million, which weredown 8% from the $16.8 million in sales recorded in 1993.
Schutz noted that Fonar's patents are broad enough to haveimplications for other MRI system manufacturers if it wins thiscase. Fonar notified other MRI companies in writing that it believesthey are violating its patent rights. Fonar may pursue litigationagainst these companies depending on the outcome of the case againstGE and Hitachi, Schutz said.
Schutz expects the case will take more than a month to hear.GE and Hitachi officials were unavailable for comment.